Style that still lets the bride shine...
Gangs of Ballet’s debut album reached No 1 on iTunes within just 12 hours of its release. Therese Owen examines the potential of these Hello Sweet World Durbanites going even further.
Ladies and gentlemen, Gangs of Ballet have arrived, and just in time, too.
As Prime Circle’s fans get a bit long in the tooth and The Parlotones focus on the US, there exists the perfect gap for the next big thing in mainstream rock.
Gangs of Ballet are that next big thing. The band for the new generation. Their first full-length album, yes/no/grey, says just that. Or rather it roars the new arrival.
They deservedly won an MK Award this year for Best Newcomer for their EP, The Deep End. The anthemic Hello Sweet World was a beautiful ballad that had even our moms singing along.
With this album they have taken on a more commercial appeal. However, there are some heavier tracks. Their music is big and bold. There are influences of Seventies rock and even grungy riffs. But it is all put together so cleverly and with a sense of pop that there is no way you cannot like the album.
I first heard it when the four-some gave me a listening session at Openroom Studios in Greenside, Joburg.
The album is produced by the great Darryl Torr and mixed by Grammy award-winner Michael Brauer who’s worked with the likes of John Mayer and Florence and the Machine. It was mastered by Electric Lady Studios in New York. The band say when they were there, U2 was in the next room. (Damn, does that mean we have to endure another album from that posturing universe saver, Bono?)
They also say the album is full of radio hits, but don’t believe they have sold out.
“If we write for radio we still want to have integrity,” said lead singer Brad Klynsmith. “At the end of the day people like Rihanna have seven people writing for them.”
The rest of the band agree that the South African music industry is run by radio stations and that writing radio-friendly songs will help them in the long run.
Says brother of Brad and drummer, Josh: “We don’t mind writing pop songs, but we still want people to know we’re musicians.”
“Part of our ethos is live performance and we have to capture people,” says bassist Hardus de Beer.
Well, they certainly captured me with their live performance. The first time I saw them – they opened for The Parlotones at the Durban Botanic Gardens – they blew me away. The energy that came from that stage – topped by the fact that they really can play their instruments and their songs are so strong – they were already looking at a big future.
“Our voice is still emerging,” says Josh. “We have our fans and we are pretty certain as to who we are. We have spent a lot of time preparing for fame. If the uncontrollable things happen we are prepared.”
With the foursome sticking to a Christian philosophy, there is little chance of rock-star meltdowns. And with such a level-headed attitude to their music, songwriting skills of note, Gangs of Ballet will be around for a very long and successful time.